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Mental Causation and Ontology$
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S. C. Gibb, E. J. Lowe, and R. D. Ingthorsson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199603770

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199603770.001.0001

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Mental Causation in the Physical World

Mental Causation in the Physical World

Chapter:
(p.58) 3 Mental Causation in the Physical World
Source:
Mental Causation and Ontology
Author(s):

Peter Menzies

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199603770.003.0004

This paper formulates a new argument that seems to show that physicalists must repudiate mental causation. The argument is related to Jaegwon Kim’s Exclusion Argument in that it relies on a crucial exclusion assumption about causation. This paper explores the extent to which this exclusion assumption is supported by different theories of causation. It argues that while a simple counterfactual theory of causation falsifies the assumption in its original form, it actually verifies a more plausible, reformulated version of the assumption under special conditions. The paper draws out some surprising consequences of this result. It argues that far from supporting the new exclusion argument against physicalism, the result actually vindicates the non-reductivist physicalist’s claim that the mental is causally autonomous with respect to the physical. The paper argues, however, that this result imposes constraints on the way in which a non-reductive physicalist can justify the causal autonomy of the mental.

Keywords:   mental causation, jaegwon kim, exclusion argument, non-reductive physicalism

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